Lots of us talk about the illusion factor of our Instagram and blog pictures, and how they’re often the best visual versions of ourselves. The more flattering angles and poses, the best side of the face, sometimes covering that breakout with a well placed tendril of hair (if we haven’t blurred it out with a tool in an editing app). We will have removed an unfortunate sweat patch, a camel toe or jutting pelvic bone (unless we have the sort of account that we know people enjoy that kinda content), and we will be wearing an artfully curated ensemble set against a complimentary background….yada yada yada. Although I know that sometimes, when your having one of those days where you feel particularly minging, out of shape, spotty, like you have absolutely nothing cool to wear, you often forget this rational. I think, on the whole, a lot of us have a grasp of the fact that these images are glorified version of our lives, and that they don’t represent the full or completely true story. You guys know we’re not these flawless perfect beings on the outside (particularly if you’ve bumped into us in our PJ’s when we’ve gone to the Co-Op to pick up a trifle on a whim), but sometimes I think we need a reminder that we are all also far from perfect on the inside too, and that’s totally fine (and universal).
I’ve talked about the danger of idolising people many times before on my blog. I will continue to do so while I continue to observe my twitter feed full of people ‘stan’-ing various ‘stars’ (isn’t it funny the metaphor is these things we look up to, that twinkle above us in the darkness). My views on all this have only been enhanced in light of the amplification of problematic or damning stories relating people we may have once put on a pedestal. We clearly need to expect flaws and mistakes, but also consider how we deal with the disclosure and our awareness of them when it’s someone we foolishly had believed was above them.
In these outfit shots in Soho I wear this Bowie tee because I loved his music, his art, his movies, what he represented to others that felt like outcasts and weirdos, and how he pushed the boundaries in terms of gender, sex, fashion and musical genres. But I’m also aware he wasn’t exempt from flaws, questionable morals, bad decisions. So many beautifully touching stories came out about him after his death that warmed my aching heart, but of course certain papers (you can guess which one in particular) brought up stories that in today world would challenge most people’s moral compass and what we deem acceptable behaviour. I wasn’t shocked though. There was a lot to adore about the man, but I didn’t love him because I thought he was perfect. I probably didn’t love him, just loved the romanticised version of him.
I see so many kids describe their favourite actors, musicians etc as angels amongst humans. Their art, talent, fame somehow elevating them above us mere mortals. They take their positive or humble tweets, their charity visits or sweet fan photos, as confirmation of their all round perfection. They forget that the star knows that what they put out there publicly effects their brand, and so it isn’t necessarily always the full, or real story – and like any company or business there will be an element of pushing the positives harder than the negatives. And in many cases the extreme negatives will be completely hidden or protected. I’m not saying these celebrities, or other people that are idolised, aren’t ever good or honest people, it’s a mixed bag like all communities, but it’s very clear that many of the people admiring them, seem to think that fame/success/beauty/talent equals someone living a life without error or ugliness.
This last year, and recently with the obviously targeted Munroe Bergdorf, we’ve seen a trend for unearthing unfavourable old tweets from the past. It happened with Jack Maynard too. It feels very mean-spirited and negative to me. Sending out a message to the world, via very public shamings, that people can’t change, learn, gain greater understanding and awareness, mature, grow etc. Well, I personally think that’s very sad and incredibly damaging – in a lot of cases probably more damaging than the tweets they’ve rooted around to expose.
Of course there are some characters in the public eye, where no rooting around is needed to reveal some unpleasant or questionable exclamations, comments and views, or unwise vocabulary from the past. But I think if we’re honest with ourselves we ALL have something in our lives we regret, shouldn’t have said, got wrong, wish we could take back, or simply didn’t explain in the best possible way. Many things you may have said whilst laughing with your mates as a youngster, would look far worse transcribed and in text form. I know i’m learning something new every single week (if not day) courtesy of discussions on social media, so who knows whether something I think or say this year will be perceived one day in the future. One moment doesn’t necessarily capture who that person was then, let alone who they are now. That said, all this serves as a reminder to think before you speak.
I even think about a recent YouTube opportunity I had. I was asked whether I wanted to interview one of my favourite actors. I said yes immediately, I was so excited/scared. Then a few days later I realised that their new movie and the theme/message of it’s story was creating a very negative storm on social media and had offended a lot of people. Despite my disappointment (of having to turn down the opportunity and lose the much needed fee) I knew I had to say I was no longer happy to do it. But I have to be honest and admit their point of view hadn’t crossed my mind, I guess the problematic element didn’t jump off the screen because the topic didn’t particularly resonate with me. So what if I hadn’t logged into Twitter those days and seen the slew of negative tweets. Well, I would have done ahead and done the job, and then probably faced a backlash as a result. Some of my followers may have felt me disloyal for supporting something with a less than exemplary message. I was very lucky to avoid it at this time. But I’m aware that at some point I’m probably going to get caught out and make a bad choice…entirely innocently. Of course, we now live in a world that seems to be slightly more alert or heightened in regards to offense. Maybe it’s just that we are simply trying to create a kinder generation, one that inclusive and sympathetic to different situations, and therefore we are more aware of things that could of been handled with more care and specific attention. While in many ways this is a positive thing, it undoubtedly makes some people feel like everything is a bit of a minefield and that it’s impossible to do anything without upsetting someone.
Thinking about it, I did a blog post about Lime Crime once too. I’m not that immersed in blog chatter and gossip, so I was completely oblivious to the apparently much-talked about controversy relating to the brand and their business ethics. A reader or fellow blogger in the know about all this might have decided that my decision to feature the brand was enough to permanently tarnish me as a blogger, and label me as one doesn’t take morals into account with her posts (which isn’t true). I think often people assume that because something that is on their radar that it is and should be on everyone else’s too, which just simply isn’t the case. So before you blast a blogger for making a collab decision you think isn’t wise, helpful, morally correct, why not first ask them whether they’ve considered ‘insert issue’ and maybe don’t assume the worst of them as a reflex. Of course it is our responsibility as content-makers to try and make good decisions (and most of us are trying hard to maintain a level of integrity), but there’s just so much information to consume these days, everyone’s being pulled in a millions directions, and sometimes we are consuming ‘fake news’ without even realising it.
I think a lot of mistakes and errors of judgement can come as a result of who you grow up with and who you spend your time with too. I gain some much information and understanding from my friends about so many of the big issues. I sometimes wonder what I’d think, say out loud, articulate, if I wasn’t so lucky to have so many intelligent, challenging, forward thinking pals to learn and spark off from – they open my eyes to many different point of views that I may have missed on my own. Think about the slang you picked up at school as a result of the group you hung out with. At times you may have thought it was the universal language or correct terminology. As soon as you change your circle of friends, the location you reside, the industry you work in, you realise that how you think/talk has been influenced, and that the vocabulary or views maybe aren’t so well received elsewhere. I can think of some words my school friends said in the 90’s, that weren’t said with any malice or intentional offense, that would paint them in a terrible light if played out now.
Obviously there are some exceptions, and some behaviour that needs further and severe assessments, but on the whole should we be focused on who the person is now. Whether they’re inclusive and open. Whether they are trying their best to live kindly. Whether they’re willing to learn and listen etc.
All this chat also makes me think we really need to take some time to evaluate and question our personal feelings toward forgiveness. To me it feels very depressing to write people off immediately once they’ve been outed for something bad, but in some serious cases you just don’t feel the capacity to forget, let alone forgive. If someone has done something very bad, enough to ruin their reputation, do we then decide that from that point onwards they’re not allowed a career, happiness, a good relationship…a life at all. It’s all very complicated and sensitive, and there’s no one blanket answer. But I think this is something we need to talk about more. In terms of the #metoo movement. We need to ensure any victims feel they can speak out, be believed, listened to, and supported. We need to understand that only a very small percentage will be false accusations (who would put themselves through that if they didn’t need to). What we do about that small percentage though – do we allow ourselves to consider that some of the accused are innocent, how does that effect our reaction to those people moving forward? What if someone acknowledges there bad behaviour, appears to be doing something to rectify their personal issues and make amends? Do we allow them redemption, forgiveness, a fresh start? (I asked Girls Against this on Sound of Mind blog – check it out here)
My close group of friends and I have all had those horrendous relationships moments that have required us to ask whether we can or should forgive. As a result we have also had those moment where we then made judgements about whether we think our friend has made the right decision to forgive/not forgive their partner. Some of my friends wouldn’t give a cheater a second chance, some would, depending on how they cheated (and with who), others were influenced about how they found out and how the partner dealt with it, others based it on their power to move on from the situation. The main point that kept coming up though was whether the person was a good person that made a bad decision, or a bad person who did a another bad thing. I think we can apply this to a lot of reactions to the mistakes and error of others. On the whole people don’t mean to be hurt, offend or make mistakes, but I think when we idolise someone the disparity between who they actually are and who we thought they are comes as a shock, and it can be extremely gutting. In short, our expectations were unrealistic and we feel incredibly hurt as a result.
As a blogger I’ve made the conscious decision not to just show the positive sides of my personality and who I am. I didn’t want anyone to ever put me on a pedestal or idolise me. I knew that if I only promoted the best bits of me I could heighten their expectations of me to a level where disappointment was the only guarantee. Someone being disappointed in you is THE worst feeling, it’s what we always dread our parents saying the most, we’d much rather they were furious with us. If people know that I will sometimes say things they won’t agree with, that I will and continue to make some bad choices, and show off those unfavourable personality traits, they won’t feel that gutted feeling I spoke of earlier. It removes the possibility for them to be shocked when I make more mistakes and prove to be…well..human. This isn’t about being a ‘relatable’ blogger either. Often, the amount of ‘ugly’ I’m showing isn’t fun/interesting to consume for the readers/viewers, but featured to eleviate some of that pressure to be that perfect shining glowing blogger. This is why I will continue to show it – it’s selfish really.
I once made a whole video based on a time when I used a word in an interview that some people weren’t happy with. I wanted to be open and honest about it, explain where I was coming from, and thought it would be a useful discussion to help illustrate other peoples points of views and why my choice was offensive to them. I had used the word schizophrenic to describe my style in a fashion piece in The Metro. Back when I was working within the fashion teams of glossy fashion magazines it was of the phrases that was readily used to describe someone who liked/wore many different styles of clothes. Someone tweeted saying I shouldn’t use a mental health condition in relation to fashion, which left me heartbroken – you guys know offend is the last thing I’d ever want to do. But we had a very calm and mature conversation privately in DM’s and I explained at that one of the definitions of the word is – ‘a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements’ and that I wasn’t referring to the illness. She realised that she’s jumped to the wrong conclusion, and hadn’t realised that it could be used in this way too. But I also acknowledged that perhaps it wasn’t a wise choice anymore and I should have thought about how it could be interpreted. In the comments of the video a lot of people said the world had gone PC mad, but it was an incredibly valuable lesson for me and I’m glad it happened. I definitely now think a bit more carefully about what I write. It’s not always easy but I try my hardest to say what I think honestly and brutally- I don’t want to lie about my views just to please – but I’m also constantly trying and think about how things effect other people, and access things from different and opposing angles.
A big blogger is getting in trouble with the spoonies community this week for a product she is promoting (I’m not caught up so not sure of the exact ins and out). People are furious, and while i understand that to them what she is doing is incredibly harmeful/dangerous,I predict that she would be horrified thinking that people would think her actions were intentional. It’s so hard to consider EVERYONE and their unique situation with every action, word you utter, product you promote. Again, we do need to try our best to go through a mental check list. For instance with a make up product moving forward I will try and think about how inclusive it is in terms of it’s colour range, or how easy it is to apply by those with specific health issues, whether it’s ingredients are ethically resourced etc. But if or someone else falls short we should try and inform, rather than immediately think they’re an awful person.
As more of the people we live or admire in the spotlight get knocked off their glowing perch we need to try and not be shocked that they were capable of letting us down. Not give them a free pass because we thought they were better than that or because they are rich and powerful (they should be pinched accordingly), but maybe give them the same allowance we would anyone else, and remind ourselves that they’re not infallible because of their status . Whether it’s your favourite star cheating on their partner, in turn ruining a relationship you had thought was ’couples goals’, whether it’s a squeaky clean star being caught snorting something they shouldn’t, whether it’s a blogger supporting a brand you hate, a Youtuber using problematic language or self proclaimed feminist Emma Watson missing an apostrophe on her statement tattoo.
Of course there are many decisions that are obvious, instinctive and should be expected of all. But there are occasions where perhaps we just aren’t clued up enough on a certain topic and we need to take time to delve into it more. There’s issues that don’t relate closely to our own situation that might make it necessarily to communicate and listen to others to gain a fuller understanding of it. There may be things in our past that in hindsight were integral to our personal growth and being who we are on now, that on paper looks ugly, unpleasant or regrettable.
I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect, you’re/my favourite celebrity isn’t either. That’s fine, but we need to try to be good people and make the most of every opportunity to learn and improve. Mistakes shouldn’t be wasted, they should be an opportunity to get better.
The outfit – shot by Kaye Ford
You’re probably bored of the sight of these jeans, but the ASOS Farleigh Jeans are just my all time favourite. They’re a mum fit, but slim-mum, so a bit more flattering for hippy girls like me. They’re distressed but not so much so that you’re legs get corn beefy in the cold.
The electric blue blazer was an item I took about from the Boohoo/Nasty Gal gifting event. It’s a size ten so slightly oversized for me, but I like it because it has more of an 80’s feels as a result. Love the statement buttons too.
The foil Bowie tee was a sale find on New Look. Anyone else think they’re smashing it at the moment???
Finally, the silver New Look boots which I wear as often as possible, and make me feel quite Bowie-esque and glam rock. I added a scarf as a belt to add a bit more roar to the outfit.